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An Exploratory Study of Physician-patient Communication of Different Genders in Online Medical Consultation
Online Medical Consultation
Due to the lack of mature information technology in the past, it was difficult for the general public to access health and medical information. People had to rely on medical professional practitioners if they needed related information. However, current society provides better living standards, and people are more concerned about health-related issues. The public go online and actively research health and medical information by themselves. Since the internet is becoming more popular than before, and almost everyone has a PC or mobile device now. The trend also gave birth to the term “Consumer Health Information”. This study aims to investigate the differences between and characteristics of the methods utilized by the two genders when they use online medical consultation by analyzing four aspects: consulting architecture, consulting type, consulting strategies and consulting timing. This study will first look into gender communication and physician-patient communication theories and models. The review was conducted to establish content analysis coding purposes. For data analysis, the chi-square test of homogeneity and standardized residuals was used; then statistics was used to explore whether there are significant differences between different genders. This part of the study was supplemented by qualitative analysis. The analysis, the contents of consultation and the results of statistical analysis of the test results showed that how different genders use online medical consultation services did not have any significant difference in overall terms. However, this study also found some specific phenomena, for example, males are more likely to reveal the emotion and desire to gain sympathy or obtain identity than females. However, the number of males who ask questions in a rational manner is slightly higher than females. Females and males show no significant differences in "consulting timing" analysis, and females do not focus more on health care or disease prevention. Through the statistical significant difference test part of the difference genders using online medical information services, the questions of gender differences have significant differences in 14 medical divisions in "consulting length". Significant differences in 2 medical divisions in "bullet point status", only 1 medical division in "questions amount", 3 medical divisions in "consultation patterns", 3 medical divisions in “consulting purpose", 3 medical divisions in “consulting emotions revealed", 6 medical divisions in “consultation identity”, and 3 medical divisions in “consultation timing. The results of this study can be summarized into the following five conclusions: 1) question exception is often due to the different medical divisions rather than gender differences; 2) no significant gender differences were revealed in consulting emotions; 3) there were no significant gender differences in consultation identity; 4) more males revealed depression status and sought sympathy; 5) females do not focus on promoting good health or disease prevention. The study also makes two substantive recommendations: (a) recommend network maintenance and management personnel can add a consulting guide or format so that users can have a clearer interface to ask medical questions; (b) users may enhance information literacy to effectively protect personal information in the internet environment. Finally, future research can be oriented towards the following topics for more in-depth inquiry: interview the users of online medical consultation services, the reply on online medical consultation by doctors, and the differences of gender and medical communication models in real life and online.
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